A COUPLE have been given national recognition for their farm shop.

Piercebridge Organic Farm Shop and Cafe, in County Durham, was given a high commendation in the best diversification category at the Countryside Alliance's Best Rural Retailer awards, held in London, on February 6.

At the awards ceremony, at the House of Lords, the efforts of Chris and Liz Hodgson were singled out for praise. Countryside Alliance regional director Richard Dodd said: "This is wonderful news for the North- East, and a real shot in the arm for the Hodgsons, who have worked so hard to turn their farm into this exciting and innovative venture.

"With 46 retailers vying for only eight awards and commendations, to win a commendation is truly phenomenal."

The farm shop has 1,300 organic products and a cafe.

Mr Dodd said: "The activities are now a hub to the surrounding areas and population - so much so that they have even been asked by the Post Office to diversify again into providing a rural post office on the farm.

"To be asked to take on a post office at a time when so many are closing shows the determination, business skills and commitment of this exceptional couple"